John Ashbery (1927–2017)

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“Our gestures have taken us farther into the day
Than tomorrow will understand.

 

They live us.”

 

—John Ashbery (1927–2017), “All Kinds of Caresses,” CR 27:04, 1976

 

Chicago Review mourns the passing of John Ashbery, one of the greatest American poets of the twentieth century and an ever-generous contributor to this journal. His first poem in CR was “The Mysterious X” (1974), followed by “The Thief of Poetry” and “All Kinds of Caresses” (1976). Of “All Kinds of Caresses,” which was reprinted in CR‘s Fifty Years: A Retrospective Issue, the editors noted: “[Ashbery’s] poetry is famously difficult; as he writes in the following poem, ‘it isn’t absolutely clear.'”

In the coming years, CR would go on to publish four more of Ashbery’s poems (in our 2006 sixtieth-anniversary issue), a letter he wrote in response to poet Eileen Myles (2008), and his correspondence with Elliott Carter regarding their collaboration on “Syringa” (2014). Photographs of Carter’s manuscript sketches alongside Ashbery’s poem text were featured in that special issue, 58:34.

In memory of John Ashbery, we have made all of his contributions to CR (1974–2006) available here.